School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Leonard Parker


Engagement, Happiness, Life Satisfaction, Motivation, Self-Determination


Christianity | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Other Education | Religion


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand how high school students with specific learning disabilities describe life satisfaction and its impact on student motivation, academic engagement, and academic progress. Bruner’s constructivist theory guided this research. Other theories included: Piaget’s cognitive development theory, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, Vygotsky’s social learning theory, Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Bowlby’s attachment theory, Dewey’s brain-based learning theory, Glasser’s control theory of motivation, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory, and Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. Data collection tools included the researcher’s journal, classroom observations, student interviews, two student focus groups, and a life satisfaction questionnaire. Data analysis included bracketing, highlighting significant statements from the data, and developing consequential themes which included: (a) confusion of mood and happiness, (b) getting what you want in life, (c) having a good friends, (d) reaching personal goals (e) a belief that God is real (f) positive parental influence, (g) having a specific learning disability, (h) having a specific learning disability (i) positive relationships with teachers, (j) a belief that not only is God real but that he cares about people. One discovery was a deep connection between participants’ self-descriptive level of happiness, and that of the role of parents, teachers, and God. Another was the deep relationship between the special education teachers and the participants. A third was the bonding force of the community and finally, a discovery of the number of participants who believe in God and have a relationship with Him. Many felt God was the source of life satisfaction and academic progress.